Last Monday evening I was busy baking in the kitchen. I had been at work in the morning, followed by a quick run round the supermarket to do a weekly shop. I just couldn’t concentrate as I had made my shopping list but stupidly left it at home. So as I walked up and down the aisles it took me ages to remember what was on the list and what I needed. Needless to say I forgot half the things I really needed but came home with things I didn’t need but wanted like a copy of Paul Hollywood’s new “Bread” book. When I finally did get home and had put all the shopping away it was straight out for me to walk my dog. I didn’t fancy going out at all, it was freezing cold and there was an icy cold wind, coupled with heavy rain. I managed to stagger back, make a cup of tea, then finally get out the baking ingredients.
It was a real treat to bake during the week. At the school where I work as a teaching assistant we have Mass on St Joseph’s Day in the church next door to our school, then as it is a Feast Day the parents are invited back into school for tea or coffee. There are usually cakes or biscuits as well, so I planned to bake three different flavoured cakes to suit everyone’s tastes.
So out came my well loved Clandestine Cake Club Cook book and I book marked three cakes which would be perfect for sharing with the parents at school. After all, the cakes are beautifully cut and shared at Clandestine Cake Club events and I wanted the parents to enjoy their cakes as much as I had done at previous events.
First up was one cake I just HAD to try. Over a month ago when I was with some of the other Clandestine Cake Club members at the Arch Cafe in Leeds being filmed for Look North, the lovely Pippa Sharp from Pudsey and West Leeds CCC brought along her moreish Ginger Syrup Cake to the shoot. I got to taste some and it was delicious. As a huge lover of ginger cake it was a massive hit with all of us. Pippa’s cake was also taken into the studio for the evening news bulletin so it was shown with Harry Gration and Amanda Harper enjoying it! I bet it didn’t last long. So I just had to try making it for myself and was worried it wouldn’t be as nice as Pippa’s cake, hers was just something else. Pippa has her own website Pippa’s Pantry and makes celebration and cupcakes to order.
As I got the oven warmed up I noticed that Pippa says you need to make sure you pre-line the tins with foil as well as greasing them as the batter is quite liquid. This really helped and I had no problems with the cake leaking out of the bottom of the tin. I thought the smell coming out of the kitchen was just heavenly. I love the smell of ginger cake baking, it brings childhood back to me thinking of gingerbread men baking with my mum.
Once they were baking away I carried on with cake number two. This was another cake from the Zesty Cakes chapter of the Clandestine Cake Club Cookbook. I chose to make the Yoghurt, Lemon and Lime Cake which was Kate Dickens’ from Dalston CCC’s recipe. Kate says that “this cake will make you friends!” and that she bakes it to help her break the ice when meeting new people and that it is a recipe from New Zealand. I thought the recipe was a lovely, fresh sounding cake and a perfect contrast to the ginger one. It was also perfect for me as I had lemons, limes and some natural yoghurt that needed using up as well as it being cooked in a Bundt tin. It also used sunflower oil instead of butter.
The ginger cakes came out and in went the lemon and lime cake. I hoped the cake would work out ok as my natural yogurt was Onken yoghurt but was fat free, this probably needed full fat.
The final cake was yet another contrast to the previous two and was the Heavenly Carrot Cake which was Kirsty Lloyd’s recipe from Abergavenny CCC. I love reading the introductions to each of the recipes in the Clandestine Cake Club book and the introduction to the carrot cake mentioned that “this classic moist cake has earned Kirsty a lot of fans at the florists she works at,” As carrot cake always goes down well when I’ve made it in the past I was very keen to try this recipe.
The carrot cake recipe was meant to be baked in a springform circular tin but mine was the wrong size. I chose to bake it in a square loose bottomed tin, hoping to cut it into squares rather than wedges. The only annoying thing I hate about making carrot cake is grating all the carrot to go in the cake. I know you can take the hassle out of it by grating it in a food processor but mine was hiding behind loads of other things in my baking cupboard. It was such a hassle to get it out, I persevered with the hand grating method, trying not to grate my fingers as well! I loved the addition of orange juice soaked sultanas which added to the flavour and depth of the cake. I did not add walnuts to my recipe as in school we do not take products containing nuts onto the premises. I just added a few more sultanas instead.
Then, disaster struck! I was meant to add a lemon and lime syrup to the still warm bundt cake. I pierced holes in the top of the cake and let the syrup soak through the holes. Sadly the cake went very soggy and I just didn’t know what to do. I left it to cool down while I made buttercream filling for the ginger cake but the cake had disintegrated on one side when I tried to take it out of the tin. I managed to flip it over, dust it with sugar and take a photo of it but I just couldn’t use it for taking into school. Fortunately all my family love lemon cake so it disappeared very quickly.
The cream cheese frosting for the carrot cake was a perfect topping and instead of sprinkling chopped nuts on my cake I chose to finish it off with some sugar carrot shapes bought from Lakeland last month. I use these a lot on carrot cupcakes and cakes.
Finally the ginger syrup was made for the top of the ginger cake. This was an interesting icing to make as it involved warming the golden syrup in a pan with some butter, ginger, cinnamon and icing sugar. It made a smooth paste and there was enough to spread on top of the cake without it sticking to my knife. There were some fine chocolate shavings to add to the top. I also had some chocolate ginger eggs which I had bought from Waitrose last week.
The two cakes that did end up at the coffee morning went down very well and there was some left over for the staff to have a slice. As I had seriously overindulged with cakes at the weekend I didn’t eat any but I was told they went down well!
Love Sam xx